Mall of America Temporarily Closed As Black Lives Matter Protesters Stage Massive "Die-In"
On one of the busiest shopping days of the year, not everyone was focused on picking up last minute Christmas presents. Thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters shut down the Mall of America with a die-in on Saturday, NBC reports, in the latest in a series of protests around the country in the past few weeks surrounding the decisions not to indict the police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.The crowd, which the Star-Tribune estimated to be between 2,000 to 3,000 people, gathered on the mall rotunda for half an hour on Saturday afternoon, chanting "Hands up, don't shoot!" and "Black people cannot breathe, while we're on our shopping sprees," in reference to Michael Brown and Eric Garner's deaths, respectively, at the hands of police officers, according to NBC. After half an hour, Bloomington police in riot helmets arrived at the scene to clear the crowd and block the protesters from entering other areas of the mall. After repeated warnings, most went peacefully, but hundreds of other protesters spread out to other parts of the mall, including outside stores close to the rotunda. This is when the mall shut down in areas, with some shoppers stuck inside stores as demonstrators staged die-ins outside.
Mall management had informed Black Lives Matter members that demonstrations are not allowed on private property, and they told the Star Tribune on Saturday that they were "extremely disappointed" that the protest continued anyway. Protest organizer Mica Grimm told KARE that she hoped the protest would "show people that this isn't going to be the same Christmas for a lot of families because they've lost loved ones."
This is one of the highest-profile protests for Black Lives Matter yet, with many demonstrators documenting their experience as it happened.
As to be expected, not everyone was in favor of the protest.
At least 25 were arrested as of Saturday night, but according to the Star Tribune, the group put aside bail money for the eventuality. The Mall of America protest was one of many at malls across the nation on Saturday, although it was by far the largest.